Zara Abid (4 April 1992 – 22 May 2020) was a Pakistani model and actress. She had been featured in various photoshoots. She made her film debut in the movie Chaudhry, directed by Azeem Sajjad.
She was one of the passengers who died aboard the PIA Flight 8303, which crashed in Karachi on 22 May 2020.
Zara Abid was born on 4 April in Lahore, Punjab. She grew up and resided in Karachi with her family, and completed her schooling from the St. Patrick’s Girls High School, before graduating with a bachelor’s degree and stepping into show business.
As a fashion icon, she was known for her tall height and tanned skin complexion, which made her stand out in an industry dominated by a stereotypical preference for lighter skin models. According to Abid, when she started modeling, she faced discrimination when it came to being hired, allegedly due to her looks and skin color. However, she stated she worked her way up and received opportunities on the basis of her professional skills and talent. She was described as “stunning and utterly unapologetic” about her color.
One of her photoshoots by a salon for the magazine Hello Mag in 2019, in which she was styled with a skin tone many shades darker than her own, evoked controversy for allegedly promoting “blackface” and cultural misappropriation, and was perceived as racist. Abid had shared the pictures on her personal Instagram account. The posts were noted to have received backlash and trolling. Abid defended her photoshoot, stating the point was to empower darker-skinned women and send a message on their lack of representation; she also called out the “colorism” that allegedly existed in society, questioning why she was being criticized for adopting a dark profile when in numerous other photoshoots, she had been purposefully presented in lighter tones.
The designer brands for which she had modeled include Sana Safinaz, Wajahat Mansoor, Annus Abrar, Zaheer Abbas, Deepak and Fahad, Payal Keyal, Alkaram, Gul Ahmed, Kayseria, Dhanak, Rang Ja, Generation, Republic Women’s Wear, Hussain Rehar and others.She appeared in television commercials, such as for Zong 4G.
Film and television
Abid began her acting career with her debut role in the upcoming film Chaudhry, directed by Azeem Sajjad and written by Zeeshan Junaid. The movie is a biopic on the life of slain police officer, Chaudhry Aslam Khan, in which Abid essayed the role of a college student. Talking about her role in an interview, Abid said it was very much relatable to her real-life persona, adding that “the character is really strong and I didn’t think twice before saying yes. The script was narrated to me over the phone and I immediately agreed.” She began shooting for the film in December 2018. The movie was expected to release some time in 2020.
On 16 January 2019, she appeared as a guest on the late-night television comedy show Mazaaq Raat.
On 22 May 2020, Abid was amongst the passengers of the PIA Flight 8303 which crashed while on final approach for landing near the Jinnah International Airport in Karachi; she was said to be returning to the city after attending her uncle’s funeral in Lahore. A flight manifest released by PIA showed her name on the list of passengers. Ninety-seven deaths were reported from the 99 people on board, and she was not reported as one of the survivors. She had been modeling for clothing brand Sana Safinaz at the time when she had to reportedly leave for Lahore. After the crash, Abid’s brother told the media her family was still looking for her at the hospital where the injured were being brought, and that they were waiting for an update from authorities.
Tributes started to pour in on social media as soon as news of the plane accident broke out,and many celebrities from the fashion and entertainment industries expressed their condolences when her death was confirmed.